How to Apply for Disability Due to Fibromyalgia

Written by Kristeen Cherney

When you have fibromyalgia, the first thing on your mind is the excruciating pain. You’re not alone—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that this debilitating condition affects over 5 million American adults.

But aside from the effects on your body, you might also be stressed over how to pay for all of the related medical costs. Getting disability support can help. But you’ll need the right tools for success.

Average Costs

 Paying for fibromyalgia isn’t cheap. In 2012, the CDC estimated that the average annual costs were $5,945. Individual expenses may be more if you also suffer from cognitive impairments. Related conditions, like arthritis, also increase costs.

Health insurance can help alleviate some of the expenses, but even patients with the best plans may have to pay large of out-of-pocket costs.

First: Get a Proper Diagnosis

 New fibromyalgia patients can apply for disability, but only with a medical diagnosis. A doctor can diagnose the condition in a few ways. First, your doctor will assess the complexity of your pain. Fibromyalgia is classified by widespread pain. According to the Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia patients have 11 or more tender spots out of 18 tested by a doctor. Fibromyalgia pain also lasts for more than three months.


 The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for evaluating all disability applications. According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, the SSA approves applications based on three primary criteria:
  • duration
  • severity
  • frequency

To be eligible, you must prove that your painful symptoms are expected to last a long time. You will also have to prove your symptoms are severe enough to keep you from work.

The Right Documents

Documentation is the key to proof. This means more than supplying the SSA with your medical records. You’ll also need to provide other proof. If your symptoms result in missed workdays, your employer may provide a statement saying so. It’s also helpful to keep a fibromyalgia diary. Keeping a diary can help you track all the days you experience pain, and how it interferes with your normal daily routine.

Other symptoms to consider are:

  • migraines
  • painful periods in women
  • chronic exhaustion

Disability Confirmation

 The SSA takes all documentation into consideration before making a decision on your disability application. Once you submit your application, a team of doctors that work with the SSA will evaluate all of its components. The team of doctors will also include a psychologist.

The team interprets your medical information and predicts how long your condition is likely to last.

File Your Information

 You can also apply for fibromyalgia disability by filling out an online application. If you have a lot of paperwork, you may find it easier to apply in person at your local SSA office. An in-person application will require an advanced appointment. You can also provide information on any related medical conditions, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

The SSA says you can apply for benefits as soon as you receive a fibromyalgia disability diagnosis. Also, be prepared to supply your most recent tax and employment information.

Wait Times

Time is of the essence when applying for disability. In fact, the SSA estimates an average wait time of three to five months. You can shorten this time by supplying as much information as possible with your application.

In some cases, the SSA will request additional documents to process your disability claim. Having the right tools in advance can help you get the benefits you need to pay for missed work and medical expenses.

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